A life taken too soon, one who touched so many others in Westport, was mourned -- and celebrated -- during an emotional memorial service Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds gathered to remember and pay tribute to 18-year-old Cameron Bruce at Saugatuck Congregational Church. The 2010 graduate of Staples High School died on Sept. 13 at the Canadian college where he was a first-year engineering student.

At the funeral, family and friends recalled Bruce as a charming, outgoing, funny young man, full of life and love -- and always willing to share it.

"Cam would probably say, although maybe not here, `Holy crap'," said his father, Iain Bruce, to the packed church, provoking a chorus of laughter. "He was his own man from a very early age. He could adapt to any situation, relate to every person. But he was his own self and unique."

Bruce was a freshman at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, following in his father's footsteps at the school. He died just one week into his collegiate life, before classes had even started, after accidentally falling out of the window of his sixth-floor dorm room. Kingston police have not released a toxicology report, and indicated Thursday that detectives would likely not release any more information on the incident. Foul play has been ruled out as a cause by officials.

The large crowd of about 800 mourners at the service spilled out of the sanctuary into the church yard, where a tent was set up with television screens broadcasting the ceremony. Hundreds had also waited hours the night to pay their respects at a wake for Bruce.

Iain Bruce thanked those who attended and said the family has been comforted by the outpouring of support, through letters, phone calls, e-mails and Facebook messages over the past two weeks.

While tears were shed during the course of the service, remembrances of Cameron Bruce, known for his spiky blond hair and ear-to-ear smile -- on display in photos set up inside the church and outdoors -- also caused many of those who knew him well to laugh.

Flowers covered his casket, carried in by classmates, friends and family.

His family is well-known in the community, another reason for the large turnout. Bruce's mother, Linda, is a member of the Westport Representative Town Meeting, and his sister, Margot, is a swimmer at Staples, as was Cameron.

Iain Bruce said he was at Queen's when his son died and talked to his dorm-mates after his death. Iain said they had all grown attached to him quickly and it was obvious that, in a short time, they had come to love him as much as those in Westport did.

Bruce's father had unique advice for those in attendance to help honor his son. He said that Cameron had convinced those on his floor to take a cake and flush it down the toilet after a party.

"So, when you go home, flush a cake," Iain Bruce said, drawing more laughter, while choking back tears. "Make sure you break it up first. And then take the piece of cake and flush it. Cam would appreciate that."

Bruce's best friend and fellow Staples graduate, Kevin Copeland, in his remembrance said that Cameron "used his whole heart. He loved with every inch of his body. I will never have a friend like him again ... but a bond like ours never dies."

Copeland said the two had become fast friends six years ago. He recalled his friend with a number of humorous anecdotes, as well as his love of music -- Bruce was an accomplished trumpet player -- and "zombie movies."

An honored scholar and athlete at Staples, many of the mourners were his classmates as well as those still attending his alma mater, teachers, coaches and music instructors. He had played trumpet at numerous events in town, while also starting a band with Copeland. He was a four-time state open swimmer, and in academics, took multiple AP classes.

An English teacher at Staples, Julie McNamee, who taught Bruce during his sophomore year, also spoke. She said that Bruce "led not by example, but by passion."

"We knew we had it good having Cam in our lives," McNamee said. "We have to be happy for what we had."

Copeland echoed that thought. "There is no one like Cam," he said. "He lived more in his life than most do in a full one." Copeland said Bruce will be remembered for how he changed the lives of people he knew for the better, through his "trumpet playing, hugs, dinosaur dancing and amazing smile," and "how hard he loved."

Rev. Howie Tobak said the funeral was a "fitting tribute" to a young man that "loved life so much and shared it boldly."

"We are lonelier because someone great has gone from our life. We are reminded of the frailty of life," he said.

The funeral began with "Fanfare for Cameron," a piece composed by local musician Rick Dobrydney for the occasion and played by Nicholas Mariconda, the band and jazz band conductor at Staples, who taught Bruce for four years. Two other instructors of Bruce's, Jennifer Trahan and Paul Levi, from the Suzuki School of Music in Westport, later played Franz Schubert's "Serenade." The ceremony ended with the singing of "Peace of the River," which is sung to end performances at New England Music Camp, which Bruce attended during three summers.

Bruce was buried at the Christ and Holy Trinity Cemetery and "Taps," a song he was known for playing at many Westport events, was performed by James Ranti, the instrumental music teacher at Kings Highway School, where Bruce first learned to play trumpet.

"Cameron loved life more than anyone," Iain Bruce said. "He wrote on his Facebook, `The slower we move, the faster we die, moving is living.' That was really how he lived, he shared with everyone. Everything was the best of his life."

Donations in Bruce's memorial can be made to multiple scholarship funds: Cameron Bruce Scholarship for Trumpet at the New England Music Camp (8 Goldenrod Lane, Sidney, ME 04330); Staples Tuition Grants (P.O. Box 5159, Westport, CT 06881); Norwalk Youth Symphony Memorial Scholarship Fund (c/o Sarah Watkins, executive director, 71 East Ave. Suite N, Norwalk, CT), or Cameron Bruce Young Engineer Award (Discovery Museum, 4450 Park Ave., Bridegport, CT 06604).